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Tom Sheehan
Voice from the Gray

Voice from the Gray


Are you there, Thomas,
hearing the maple burst pods,
sunflower creak and groan up,
down-loam leap of crocus strings
silent as webbing in the corner
of the barn, tulip death
at wayward Chlorodaine
you spilled?

I watch you
in the mirror of stars,
renegade heart, April's savage,
killing the long winter siege,
scabbard clean of weapon
you clutch. You muster
your spring

thwarted larynx
sky-lifted, the amens
for buried blossoms, the sable
early flowers cede
to summer


Do not dwell
on winter sludge,
April's vast recall,
memory of bulb and seed
working hard as sandhog.
They get hot every equinox,
volcanic up, forest
fire down, August

Do you walk
where your father waits
socked down beneath the stone
all savings bought, deftly scribed,
"James 1903-1978," so off-hand
you wonder where reality

Grass leaps
above him down,
has root of snake and worm,
grass root boa does its dig,
grapple gains your father's mind.
Wait, James, your mother loved
you no more
than me.


take their time,
Who goes where, how?
Spring from the grave, James!
Spring! Spring! Oh, James, come up;
one sound from your broken eyes,
a hand at dusk, just one,
just send the bloom
once more.

Flower's fur,
toss and turf of tempest grass,
leap of leg you lost, grief-bent
in another vault. Are you wholly joined?
You in forsythia come-back, foxtail
lunge, lost son's lilac rocketing,
smash of lightning maple wears,
love-lies-bleeding is stranger,
lo, clethra and groundsel
carve your eyes.

Water washes
under; happy at this
infernal machine scored years
ago you gave me, I dream your rivers:
King Amazon whose ticks scarred
the leg surgeon's saw


Father of Waters down
to New Orleans town, the fist
of Harry Greb a log-slam to your jaw,
teeth achatter like old pickets
seized loose by rust of nail
and wild March air
giants kick.

Wrench of
Allagash log,
hump-backed stream
stole hook and leader
from your cigarette hand.
Down East does gray house wear them,
is the shadow of the hook
buried in this page?
What shark

The Saugus
kicking the Atlantic
three miles down, square
of mackerel, stripers' pavement,
plaza where flounder bite the sky;
and six miles out, sixty yards astern,
we tasted salt together in the turgid wake
when I chased my Red Sox cap
and you chased me in much
too quick sobriety.


Voice hangs
every which way hours:
Crow a little bit when in luck.
Pay up, shut up, own up when you lose.
Running begins in the heart, not the knee,
Not the density of thigh, slight puff of calf.

(Turning thirteen, rushing downstairs
for annual gift, your handing me
the hammer: From now on
you drive the nails

The fist-burst
in the 1:00 A.M. yard,
moon with cloud robe, peer
of cat eyes, my catching four clenched
hands of thugs. God knows how you made the back
door, concrete onyx for retinas, white cane
in rapier thrust and swish: Work him, Tom!
Work him! Work him!
Gut of the Corps
coming like an erection.
You never knew there
were two of them.
You cried in
black eyes.


In 1945
white-water snows
came hard as spring Allagash,
broke the backs of buses, plows,
tore hearts of tractors out, spilled black
black blood, held the crocus six weeks back.
Icicle at your heart, snow writhing as spiders
at hip line, brood-bent, you swam six miles
home past knotted crankcases, fell in
the back door. I knifed the mackinaw
off, the iron laces of your boots.
Kissed you cold on kitchen
floor, rubbed my emery
hands on threatened

In one giant leap,
went seventeen to seventy,
found response, am still there.
Walked home from war, heartbreak,
the hill above that holds your voice,
Riverside where the stone deftly scribed
is hardly your last sign, where we
will touch again

Poet's Biography:
Tom Sheehan, retired for 12 years, has had work appear in The Paumanok Review, Literary Potpourri, Small Spiral Notebook, 3amMagazine, Eastoftheweb, Stirring, Samsara, and Dakota House Journal, among others. He was cited with a Silver Rose Award for Excellence in the Short Story by ART (one of 12 awards out of a 1000 stories reviewed), nominated for Pushcart prize, and included in The Zine Yearbook and E-2-Ink. He also won Eastoftheweb's 2002 non-fiction competition.

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